CPCB orders closure of stone crushers, asks Punjab, Haryana to curb stubble burning

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed stone crushers and hot mix plants to remain closed till November 17 in view of high air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR.

Frequency of mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on roads with high dust generating potential and guidelines and standard operating procedures for dust control at construction sites are strictly to be followed. In case of violations, a penalty will be imposed or construction activity will be stopped temporarily, CPCB said on Wednesday.

Punjab and Haryana should take immediate action to curb stubble burning and Delhi NCR should take immediate measures to curb biomass burning, the statement said, adding that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order on firecrackers is to be strictly followed.

Also Read: Experts warn of double trouble in Delhi with rising air pollution, Covid-19

The Commission on Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas decided on November 10 that the task of implementing the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) will be temporarily given to CPCB until the newly constituted commission develops a mechanism for implementation of GRAP.

CPCB said PM 2.5 concentrations in Delhi NCR exceeded 300 micrograms per cubic metres at 7 pm on November 8 and persisted for more than 48 hours till 7 pm on November 10. A declining trend in PM 2.5 concentrations was observed from noon of November 10.

Air quality on Wednesday is in “very poor” category but is forecast to be in “very poor” to “severe category” on November 13 owing to adverse meteorological conditions. In view of the forecast CPCB has made these interventions.

There has been confusion among agencies after the Centre issued an ordinance on October 29 to set up the new centralised agency with sweeping powers to monitor and act against sources of air pollution across five north Indian states. It replaced all ad-hoc committees and bodies created as per court orders including the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority that was formed to oversee measures to check air pollution in NCR in 1998 and had been monitoring the enforcement of emergency measures under Grap.

While the commission had its first meeting only on Monday, the fifth consecutive day air quality was severe in Delhi, CPCB officials said they were not sure if emergency measures such as curbs on construction activities, restriction on use of personal vehicles and waste burning under the Graded Response Action Plan were to be implemented.

“After the Commission came, we did not have legal mandate to hold meetings or enforce GRAP. The Commission gave us the responsibility only yesterday so we couldn’t take any measures on our own in the past few days,” a senior CPCB official said.

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